Saga sustainability training gives Design Centre staff confidence to carry messages forward

On 14 May, 2019, Saga sustainability team conducted a one-day train-the-trainer session for the young Millennial staff at the Saga Design Centre in Copenhagen.

The day kicked off with Saga Furs Head of Sustainability, Charles Ross tossing high-end fashion garments one by one from a rack to the floor. “There’s nothing left to wear anymore!” Ross told surprised participants. About 35%, or one third, of global fashion today is animal based and under threat of future government bans.”

Down went a fur coat, then a wool sweater, followed by a leather jacket. A cashmere cardigan hit the floor next, then a silk shirt and a pair of crocodile shoes. And, so it went, until finally, the only garment left on the rack was a fake fur jacket. “If you take away natural fur, wool, cashmere, leather, and silk, then what’s left constitutes a serious environmental risk,” Ross explained.

Participants discussed today’s fast fashion as a driver of overconsumption and carbon emissions and shorter fashion cycles, which send goods to landfills. Synthetic non-animal-based fashion items also spread microplastics – now a global crisis, which enter the food chain from our clothes.

Farm Certification
From here the spotlight moved to farm management and animal welfare, presented by Maiju Harila, Sustainability Specialist from Saga’s parent organisation, ProFur, which has developed and oversees Saga’s stringent certification criteria that go beyond legal requirements.

Harila was able to go deeper into the process, including a look at farmer training for extraordinary circumstances. A recent fire at a Saga Certified farm was a case in point. As preparing for exceptional situations is a substantial part of the certification program, it was possible to limit the fire and thus the financial losses.

Transparent and traceable supply chain
Transparency in the fur supply chain was another hot button topic on the session agenda, led by CSR Project Manager, Marika Peuhkuri-Grön. Only Saga Certified fur pelts are traceable using ‘STS’, the unique Saga Traceability System, which traces fur pelts from the retailer back to the farms that produce them. Making use of fur garments created by the Design Centre, Peuhkuri-Grön gave participants a hands-on demo of upcoming RFID technology, which can be embedded into a Saga hang tag to provide real time information at the point of purchase on a fur garment’s country of origin, as well as Saga Certification with Welfur Inside and farm information. “The demo was so successful that they’ve decided to take it on the road to the Fur Visions this year and show it off to the whole industry,” says Peuhkuri-Grön.

Confidence to carry the story forward
Ross adds: “These young people in Copenhagen are effectively our ambassadors to the fashion world, so it’s important that they have all the information on Saga’s industry leading sustainability program and the confidence to carry it forward.”

Confidence was a word that came up a lot during the six-hour session. At the close, participants professed to feeling more confident about the responsibility they have for briefing the Design Centre’s many annual visitors, who now want sustainability front and center on their agenda.

Leading with sustainability
“In the past, visitors wanted to jump straight into the workshop and start learning about how to work with the fur,” explains Thea Larsen, Head of Product Development and Master Furrier at the Saga Furs Design Center. “But nowadays, they prefer to start in the presentation room and learn as much as they can about our sustainability story first. It’s only after they’ve heard where our fur comes from and how it is produced, based on our certified and transparent supply chain, that they are ready to go to the Atelier and start playing around with it.”